Second Semester

Tomorrow marks the end of our second homeschool semester. This would not be significant except for the fact that our school year began in July! We have had a number of hiccups in our school year, including our second state-to-state move in a year. I am actually amazed that we have managed to complete two semesters. I have avoided the winter homeschool blues, if only because of the incredible pressure to complete this semester.

This weekend I will work on report cards, a first for me, and try not to have a biased view of my children. In eight years of homeschooling I have never kept grades for our kids. I just didn’t feel that grades accurately reflected what our kids were learning. I have one child that could score an “A” on any multiple-choice test even if he didn’t understand the material; he is just a good guesser. I have another that would have trouble scoring well on any test that wasn’t math because he has a slew of learning disabilities.

I believe grades aren’t important, it’s their understanding of the material that matters. Now we live in a state with strict homeschool laws and grades are required, so I will grudgingly comply while dreaming of the day that we move again and regain some of our homeschool freedom.

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Debt Free Living ~ Our Path to Freedom

A little over a year ago we had some friends over after church. We talked about the usual stuff, kids, church, homeschool, and then the conversation turned to finances. They were getting rid of all their debt an idea they got from reading Dave Ramsey. It sounded a little radical for us, I mean no credit cards, no car payments, no mortgage… that seemed crazy.

We listened politely as they told us what they were doing to reduce their debt and increase their income. We really felt we were doing financially okay. I mean the only debt we had was a car payment and some student loans. We used credit cards, but we always paid them off every month, plus we earned cash back. Some years it was a few hundred dollars. Of course we didn’t have any money saved, and didn’t really own anything. Our net worth was probably $1000.

We moved to another state and last summer, while walking with a neighbor, she mentioned something about this guy Dave Ramsey and how they were trying to use his plan to get ahead. After hearing her talk about him I figured I needed to find out more about this guy. I checked out The Total Money Makeover from the library, and read it in two days. Then I asked my husband to read it. He read it and we were sold.

Over the next month, we devised a plan to pay off the student loans (the car had been paid off earlier in the year) and start building our emergency fund. We both took our credit cards out of our wallets and stopped using them completely. We used cash for groceries, entertainment, household purchases, and our debit card for gas and any online purchases.

In four months we managed to pay off almost $10,000 in student loans and shouted “We’re Debt FREE!” on the Dave Ramsey Show.

It was exciting. This month we completed baby step three by fully funding our emergency fund. In about six months we have completely turned our finances around! It is an amazing feeling to write our budget and not owe money for things purchased in our past.

Over the past few months we have learned to hate debt, and love the freedom that comes with not owing money to anyone. Freedom from debt has changed our lives.

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My CVS Trip

Last night my husband and I made a late night trip to CVS. I am new to this whole saving money at CVS thing, but I wanted to try it out. This is what I purchased

3 packs of Huggies diapers – $2/1 coupon for each

4 jars of skippy peanut butter – $1/2 coupon for each

4 jars of Ragu- $0.55/2 coupon for each

2 packs of Energizer batteries -$1/1 coupon for each

1 Arm and Hammer toothpaste- $1/1 coupon for each

1 Cottenelle toilet paper – no coupon for this one but we were out of tp!

My total bill was $63.40

After coupons and Extra Bucks I paid $31.40 out of pocket. I realize that is high for those who go and manage to spend $2, but I was able to earn $17 in Extra Bucks for my next trip to the store. Plus, my husband and I are having a great time planning our trip and scouting deals. I am also totally excited because last night we found out that CVS accepts commissary coupons! I am hoping that shopping at CVS will help me meet my February grocery goal.

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Menu January 30th- February 5th

I shop during the week so my menus usually run from Wednesday to Tuesday.

Here is what I have come up with for this week.

Wed- Pizza

Thurs- Roast

Friday- Beef Burritos (using leftover roast)

Saturday- Spaghetti

Sunday- Tacos

Monday- Pasta

Tuesday- Leftovers

I got great deals on noodles, sauce, taco shells and beans this past week so I wanted to incorporate them in our menu and save money for my $600 month.

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Deals at CVS

Crystal has introduced me to shopping at CVS. Last night we signed up for a CVS card and started shopping. Since I am new at this I went for the Pepsi deal. Three 12 packs of Pepsi for $10. That is not really a great deal since I try to purchase Pepsi for about $.20 a can, but I had a $4 off coupon, plus when you purchased $20 worth of Pepsi products you receive $10 in ECB’s. (Extra Care Bucks), which you are able to use on your next purchase. Essentially I paid $1 per twelve pack once you factor in the coupons and ECB’s. The only way to get a better deal is to quit drinking soda, which for now is not an option.

When I first read that you could grocery shop at CVS I didn’t believe it. I shop at the commissary and it is really hard to beat their prices on most items. If you save coupons and watch the sales at CVS you can save money and sometimes even get groceries for free.

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